Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed has voiced concerns over the “worrying” signals surrounding Mercosur negotiations.

Speaking to AgriLand in Seoul, South Korea, on the Department of Agriculture / Bord Bia trade mission, the minister said: “The signals are quite worrying.

“I’ve written to the commissioner but I haven’t had any response that I’m aware of yet.”

The minister tempered this by noting that he is out of the country and at present is unaware of correspondence coming back.

Continuing, he said: “We are concerned with what we’re hearing and reading about the momentum for a deal.

We’ve raised this issue repeatedly at Council of Ministers level and bilateral meetings with the commissioner.

“I know that my colleague Heather Humphreys has raised the matter with the Trade Commissioner Cecelia Malmstrom, so we’ve been active at all levels and on all fronts on this issue,” the minister said.

On Friday, June 7, the minister outlined his concerns in a letter to European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan.

“Ireland’s concerns have been greatly heightened recently by reports indicating that progress is being made on a number of outstanding issues in industry and other sectors, and that this is generating renewed pressure for further EU concessions in sensitive sectors such as beef,” the minister said.

Noting the additional impact of Brexit on the sector, Minister Creed said: “It is therefore imperative that no further concessions are made in relation to beef.

“Further clarity should be provided in relation to what offer might be made by Mercosur in relation to improved access for EU dairy and alcoholic beverages.”